For me, the goal of the miles and points game is to get Sharon and I the best travel experience for the money we spend. So then why did I just go and spend $690 for 120,000 IHG Reward Club points with no idea how I will use them? Well, remember that I find points in the IHG program (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental Hotels) to be the most valuable points program for our travels.
The reason I bought points without any sure reason how I am going to use them is because they were on sale. No really, they were! There was a flash promotion for 100% bonus points. For the 60,000 points I paid for, I received an additional 60,000 or 120,000 total points. That means instead of the usual price of 1.15 cents per point, these points cost me 0.575 cents each. That’s a value at which I’m confident I’ll be able to use these points to my advantage. Purchasing points during sales is one way you can build up your balances. Instead of buying points, look at it as pre-paying for a room at a set price.
These sales are usually announced by email to the members of the respective programs. So if you haven’t signed up for an account (or two or three or…), you’ll never even know about these promotions. Here is a link to my article with the links to sign up for the major hotel programs, if you need some help signing up. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up, by the way.
Now, to be able to jump on promotions like this one you need to know the answer to at least two questions.
- Is this a good deal?
- Will I have a use for these points in a reasonable amount of time?
Figuring out if an offer is a good deal requires you knowing what a point in the particular program is worth. I use my value for previous redemptions as a guide but there are many websites (such as HERE and HERE) that list what they feel is a fair value for a point in each program. You also need to be sure you will be able to use the points before they might significantly go down in value. If a hotel program suddenly decides that a hotel that used to cost 20,000 points a night now will cost 30,000 points (and yes, sometimes hotel programs do that), your points have now essentially gone down 50% in value. Hotel point devaluations are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of playing this game. So you can see how buying a bunch of points without a potential or planned use for them can possibly be dangerous in the long run.
Since, as I mentioned earlier, there are many hotels that are part of the IHG program (including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental Hotels, Staybridge Suites & Candlewood Suites), I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to use these points in a reasonable amount of time. For example, let’s look at a stay at the Crowne Plaza Times Square for later on this month. A two night stay will cost 100,000 points (50,000 points a night). Right now those nights are selling for $750.00 after taxes and hotel fees.
Paying cash for 2 nights in Manhattan = $750
Two nights for 100,000 points = $575.00 (100,000 x 0.00575)
With paying for the points and using them to book the room instead of paying for the room directly, you could save $175. I’m sure I could easily use these points for this kind of trip in the near future.
Lets look at a less glamorous hotel to see if the numbers still work out. For example, what about a stay at the Candlewood Suites in New Braunfels, Texas, which is a hotel where we’ve stayed in the past.
To book a room at this hotel would cost 20,000 points a night, so a 3 night stay would cost 60,000 points. The same room for cash with AAA discount is going for $395.50. Using points would yield a redemption value of 0.66 cents a point. Using points bought at the sale price of $0.0575/point the room would cost me $345. This means I would still save about $50.00. Now, if I had I paid full price for those points ($0.0115/point, which is the equivalent of $690 for the 3 nights), it would have been much cheaper to pay cash.
This second example shows why I felt confident in buying points at this sale value. Even with a pretty low redemption value, I’d still come out ahead. That’s why I went full in on this offer.
We have a couple of trips planned this year. I’ll be looking out to see if there are any hotels I can save some money at by using my newly acquired stash of IHG points.